Well it’s Family Camp. I told you earlier that I wasn’t going to write a blog unless I had something story-like to share with you, and I have something! So here we are.
Yesterday, while I was swimming for endless hours on my day off (the lake is unbelievable. If you’re not here, why not??), Ashley Veenstra came boating alongside me in an inflatable boat and asked if I had anyone give me stories yet. Truth be told, the answer is no, I hadn’t yet. But she suggested “do you know anyone else whose family has been represented here across 5 generations?”
No, we couldn’t think of anyone who could say that!
In 1961, Merle Mater along with a group of several other men came up to the site to walk around and see if this would be a valuable property purchase for the Brethren In Christ Church as a retreat and conference centre. They were looking for a Camp. We still have the snow shoes that Merle walked the property in, and they’re hanging on the wall in the dining hall!
Now, 54 years later, we have a large Mater clan here who still camps faithfully every year during Family Camp. And they’ve been coming this whole time. I can remember in my years as a kids’ camper having Uncle Merle as a bus driver, and not just because we call everyone Uncle and Aunt at Camp, but because Uncle Merle is my Great Uncle. (Laura Winger writing)
My side of that family tree is close to having 5 generations, but because neither my brother nor I have any kids, we’re sitting at 4 for now.
On site this week, we have Brian and Shari Mater, their daughter Heidi (their son Dustin is not here), Blain and Jackie Mater and their three kids: Brendan, Ashley, and Jocelyn. Ashley’s husband Jon is here with them as well, with their two kids Landon and Madison. Brendan’s wife Sarah is not here, but two of their three children, Bianca and Audrey are here with him. Jocelyn’s boyfriend Taylor is here as well.
We can boast other families who have multiple generations who come to camp as well, probably too many to name. I think it’s really neat though that as descendants of one of the original men to walk the property, camp is still an important part of the lives of the Mater family. It’s been a real blessing for me this week to hear Blain and Brian’s bass voices ringing out during worship in the Chapel, and Ashley has been on the worship team this week along with Jim Lambert and Ashley Cunningham. On Monday morning, Ashley Cunningham recorded them singing “Lord I Need You” and made a video of it, accompanied by pictures from all over Camp, then posted it to Facebook. In it you can hear not only their voices leading, but also those of everyone joining in.
Here’s a picture of the CK 2015 Mater clan, in front of the snow shoes Merle Mater walked the property on in 1961.
The thing I love about Family Camp is though, that it doesn’t matter whether your family has been here for 5 generations, or whether you are the first generation of your family to start to come here, everyone is welcome and, I think, feels that ‘family’ feel. My favourite part of Family Camp is getting to see the ‘family’ that I wouldn’t see anywhere else, even though they aren’t related to me. I’ve gotten to know so many of you in my years as a camper and then as staff, that I can honestly say the people at Camp are like a second family to me. And for that, it doesn’t matter how many generations we span, because we’re all family in Christ.